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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Matwiku horticulture farmers benefit from an exchange visit

By Joyce Okuta and Bob Aston
Exchange visits, which are also called study tours, have been used for a long time as a way of sharing knowledge between farmers. They have been proven to lead to mutual knowledge increase, due to practical demonstrations and they have also enabled farmers to become more aware of their own skills and capacities.
In order to increase access to knowledge and information amongst farmers in Matwiku area of Githiga Ward, Laikipia County, the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) organized for an exchange visit for three (3) members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers S.H.G on March 13, 2015 to travel to Ilchamus Ward of Marigat Sub County to witness the launch of Nolororo Horticulture Project, which was also an open day to showcase climate smart agriculture and offer farmers an opportunity to interact with county leaders.
ALIN in partnership with Act Change Transform (Act!), with financial support from Department for International Development (DFID) and Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) is implementing a climate smart agriculture project in Baringo, Laikipia and Kajiado counties with the aim of strengthening communities’ resilience to impacts of climate change while conserving natural resources.
Farmers being shown around the Nolororo Horticulture Project
The project supported Nolororo women group to establish a drip irrigation system for horticultural production. The group members have been taught about plant protection, harvesting, value addition and marketing. They are now using drip irrigation technology to produce nutritious food.
The objectives of the exchange visit included; to expose the farmers from Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self help group to the activities done by Nolororo women group, to allow the farmers to exchange experiences and plan for the future use of the practices they observe and to assist farmers to gain confidence with what they are doing in the project so that they can explain and teach others.
Mr. Peter Gicheru, Secretary Matwiku Horticulture Growers self help group noted that the exchange visit had proved to be an enriching experience as he had managed to learn a lot from Nolororo women group.
“The opportunity that ALIN provided for us has enabled us to learn better farming methods and crops that we can cultivate in our own project. I realized that farmers in Ilchamus ward are lucky as the climatic condition is ideal for water melon and tomatoes and they take a shorter duration to mature unlike Matwiku,” said Mr. Gicheru.
Gicheru said that he is now planning to start farming in Ilchamus ward as cost of production is slightly lower there compared to Matwiku and the returns are also better. He added that horticultural crops can do well using drip irrigation and encouraged farmers to adopt the technology to increase their income.
Farmers being shown the project water source
The Nolororo women group activities focus on practicing Climate Smart Agriculture. This is agriculture aimed at reducing emissions at the farm level, conserving natural resources like soils and water while increasing nutritious food production at household level at the same time increasing family incomes.
On her part, Mrs. Lucy Mumbi a member of Matwiku Horticulture Growers self help group shared farming experiences with members of Nolororo women group. She noted that unlike Nolororo women group her group is composed of more men than women.
“Human-wildlife conflict is common in Matwiku area and we rely on men to offer security during such times. Nolororo women group is lucky since there is a steady supply of water from river molo,” said Mrs. Mumbi.
She thanked ALIN for the opportunity to visit the group and felt motivated to work hard and be more open minded when it comes to new technologies and farming methods.
ALIN has been involved in knowledge sharing for more than 22 years now, using various platforms that include the use of video documentations, exchange visits, open learning days and articles aimed at farmers and pastoralists. These experiences have helped farmers to access knowledge and information, which have helped to empower many farmers in arid areas.
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